There’s a ten race Saturday card, highlighted by the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap for older horses going 1 mile and 1/16. Joel Rosario, who was shut out on yesterday’s card in his first time riding here during this meet, gets the call on the morning line favorite, West Will Power. Brad Cox sends out that six year old gelding, making his first start since narrowly losing to Proxy in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes in November. First post is 12:30 (CT) with the featured race scheduled to go off at 4:42 (CT).
I’ll be covering this exciting meet on the ITM Blog, along with posting some updates and thoughts from time to time on Twitter @EricSolomon718. Feel free to reach out!
|Race||Top Pick||A||B||C||Exotics Menu|
|2||9||5,9,10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||11||11||8,12||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||3||3,7||5,12||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Older fillies and mares will sprint six furlongs in this N1X allowance race that will launch the Saturday program. Hypersport (#4) went off as the 11-10 favorite in a race like this last month, and, as per usual, she ran a decent race, but was not quite good enough to clear this N1X condition. She’s back again to take another swing, but once again, I feel like trying to beat her is the way to go. She’ll be a saver for me on the C line, but I’ll look to Tales of Home (#9) to handle her business once again. She made her third career start here last month after finishing second in her first two races. She cut back from a route to a sprint and was a comfortable winner last time out. Her outside post should fit her for the race that she wants to run. She’s All Class (#8) makes her first start of the year after a disappointing effort in the slop in November at Churchill. Her prior two efforts on a fast track were decent, breaking her maiden three back and running a competitive second against similar two starts ago. I’ll look for her to rebound today. Comedy Act (#1) changed tactics last out when she finished a troubled trip third, while hitting a career top figure. Her start at two turns two starts ago was ugly, but her sprint figures prior to that were solid. She was forwardly placed in most of her sprints prior to her last start, so with her rail draw here, it will be interesting to see what tactics Bejarano will employ.
Conditioned $8,000-$7,500 filly and mare claimers will start the Early Pick-4. Several runners here are coming off poor efforts in their last starts. The table should be set for Chasing Shadows (#9) to run them down in the stretch here. She’s dropping in class after a second place finish with open $12,500-$10,000 claimers here last month. She’s relatively consistent in a race where many are up and down in form. House Wrecker (#5) comes in off a slow win with open $6,250 claimers. SHe makes her third start off the layoff and her first start off the Bentley Combs claim. He’s 5-12 so far at this meet, and he’s hit with 23% of his horses in their first start off his claim in the last year. Stylin N Profilin (#10) was a nonfactor when I picked her on top in a route race last month with open $20K claimers. She takes a steep drop while also returning to a sprint. Prior to her last start, she had seven straight on the board finishes with two wins in that span.
We have another dual condition race, labeled as a $40K starter allowance, but also restricted to horses that have won three times (unless those wins came in a race with a $25K tag or less). Lake Radio (#10) may be overlooked while racing for a barn that is 0-22 at this current meet. However, his last two races have been sharp, finishing a game third with $30K starter allowance foes last month. He’s lightly raced, making only his 9th career start, and he feels like he’s trending in the right direction. Papa Rocket (#3) was 6th in that same race, but less than two lengths behind Lake Radio. He was away slow and lost valuable early position that day, then found himself mired in traffic while still fighting on. He win with $30K-$25K N2L claimers two starts back was sharp, suggesting that this four year old gelding is sharper this year than last. If speed looks good in the first two races, I’d consider upgrading Ninja Warrior (#9) who is coming off a dull effort in the slop. He could have also bounced off a big effort in his start prior to that. He’s the speed of the speed in this race and could run them off their feet, especially if some of the other pace threats pull back.
Ten Arkansas bred fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this N2L allowance race. Three of these fillies are coming out of an open $30K starter allowance race that was also open to state bred horses. Mozingo (#2) went off at 7-1 that day (up from the 4-1 morning line figure she was listed at) while making her first start as a three year old. She faltered in stakes company at Prairie Meadows in July, but was a winner on debut for Tom Amoss at the beginning of June. She was given almost seven months off, and she returned with an even 7th place finish on a day where she exerted a lot of energy before the race. If she’s on better behavior, I see her as a horse that could step forward in her second start of the year. One Way or Another (#8) is a four year old filly making her first start in two months. She just missed with similar last time out, perhaps moving just a bit prematurely. Sulwe, who is a strong closer, nailed her on the wire. Her best races earlier in her career were when she was on the front end, but she looked comfortable stalking the pace last time out. I’ll use both Lassie My Girl (#5) and Summorya (#6) as avers on deeper plays. I think there’s more value to be had with Lassie My Girl. She lost to Summorya by a narrow neck when they both debuted in the same maiden special weight race on New Year’s Eve. Lassie My Girl broke her maiden on a sloppy course in her next start, while Summorya was off the board after breaking slowly in that same starter allowance race that Mozingo is coming out of. I think they’re evenly matched, so if the disparity in their pari-mutuel odds are similar to the disparity in the morning line odds, I’d be more inclined to play Lassie My Girl more prominently.
A dozen three year olds will go one mile in this maiden special weight race. I’m going to play against the morning line favorite, Heroic Move (#10) in this race. He’s a half to Family Tradition who finished off the board in his first race with much weaker rivals yesterday. Brad Cox trained that one to break his maiden two back, but that came with cheaper maiden claimers. I don’t love the post for his debut at two turns. Route Runner (#9) makes his first start of the year after a pair of two year old efforts at Ellis and Kentucky Downs last year. Asmussen is inching closer to his 10,000th career training win and I think this son of Gun Runner will come back stronger after the layoff. Hard Spun Fantasy (#8) made some headway late to finish 6th in his debut in a six furlong sprint. He was slow into stride, but he was figuring some things out late. Von Hemel does not have good numbers with second time starters, but I do think he could be a factor with this group while stretching out. Bye Bye Ray (#12) has been close in his first two tries, finishing second both times. He moved up considerably in his last start, which was his first local try. His pedigree may lean toward one turn races and he’ll have to overcome the 12 post. However, he just might be classy enough to overcome both.
The Late Pick-5 will start with an optional $100K claiming/N1X allowance race for three year olds going 1 mile and 1/16. Funny Uncle (#1), Arman (#5), and Two Eagles River (#7) are cross-entered in a similar race tomorrow. Tomorrow’s race only has a field of seven for the same purse, and both Two Eagles River and Arman had a better post draw for that race. I’m going to operate under the assumption that they’re going to scratch here, and honestly, I probably would to because I’m not sure I’d want to face Shopper’s Revenge (#11) in this race. This son of Tapit ran a strong race in his first career route to dominate a decent maiden allowance field here last month. Asmussen is being more conservative, starting him in this race, as opposed to swinging for the fences next weekend in the Southwest Stakes. He’s bred to be a good one, sired by Tapit out of the champion mare, Stopchargingmaria. He’s drawn wide, but if that trio scratches, his post becomes more manageable. Ben’s Legacy (#8) and Thirsty John (#12) will be where I back up. Ben’s Legacy was very sharp when breaking his maiden in a sprint race here last month. His dam was sired by Forestrym so there could be some distance limitations. However, his last was good enough, and he certainly looked like he’d be okay stretching out. Thirsty John was the Cal Cup Derby for California breds at Santa Anita last month. That was his first start since breaking his maiden in a 4 and ½ furlong sprint back in May. He gets Lasix for his first try outside of the Golden State. It’ll be interesting to see how that race holds up, because it didn’t look very deep on paper. He’ll also likely either have to work hard to make the lead or revert to different tactics for this race.
Here’s another maiden special weight race for three year olds, this one for sprinters though at six furlongs. I’m going to try the first time starter, Mullikin (#3) in this race, thinking that we’ll get better value with him as opposed to the other high profile debut runner, Miracle Worker (#5). Rodolphe Brisset trains Mullikin, who is a son of Violence that has been working well locally. The dam was a winner on debut, and her other foals to race have been competitive at first asking. Santana has teamed up to win 46% (6-13) of his races here for Brisset over the past two years. Ryvit (#7) is an interesting runner for Steve Asmussen. He was second in his debut, which was a 4 and ½ furlong sprint at Keeneland. He tried stakes company at Churchill, running a competitive third in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes on Derby Week, which was his last start. He had some issues early in that race, which was a full field, but he showed some resiliency by closing well late to finish in the money. He’s been working well over at the Fair Grounds, so I see it as a good sign that Asmussen is bringing him here. Nautical Star (#12) is an Oklahoma bred with a modest pedigree, but he was sharp at long odds in his debut here. He drilled a bullet work in between starts, suggesting that he’ll be competitive again. I’d still like to get better than his 5-1 morning line figure, on account of the unknown connections. I will cover with Miracle Worker for Brad Cox. He does well with runners at first asking, and he’s sired by Into Mischief. Rosario has been on a cold streak in Florida and he was winless despite getting some short priced mounts yesterday.
Both Congressman (#3) and Roman Centurion (#10) are lightly raced horse with lots of potential, but they’ve been limited due to some physical ailments. If they’re right, they should be tough to beat in this optional claiming/N2X allowance race. I prefer Congressman, despite the fact that he’s never gone two turns in a race. He beat a good field in a maiden race on the Derby undercard, and went back to the sidelines until January. He broke last in a six furlong sprint when facing winners for the first time in that race. That was a new experience for him as he was forwardly placed in his other two starts. He came over the top with a bold rally to beat a decent field by over two widening lengths. He draws a good post for his first start two turn race, so I see him as the one to beat. Back in January of 2021, we saw a thrilling edition of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, where Medina Spirit, who would go on to cross the wire first in the Kentucky Derby that year, narrowly beat two horses, one of them being Hot Rod Charlie, who was third. The runner up that day was Roman Centurion, who has only started two times since that race. He was 4th in the 2021 San Felipe, behind Life is Good, who won that race by eight lengths. After that, we didn’t see him until May of 2022, when he was elevated to first via disqualification in a roughly run N1X race, also at Santa Anita. Since then, he’s been moved to Brad Cox’s barn and now he’ll make his first start since. He ran a big race that day, so if he’s healthy, he’s going to be a problem in this race. There are enough unknowns though to be a little cautious, especially if taking him at short odds. Since there are some questions with the top two, I’ll make sure I cover using Major General (#7) as well. He’s moving back up in class after beating time restricted $50K-$45K claimers last month. That was his first win in a long time, so I’m thinking that he can build off that effort, as he always showed a lot of potential. Chris Hartman continues to be a force at this meet, winning at a 35% rate (20-57).
Race 9, The Grade 3 Razorback Handicap:
West Will Power (#6)comes into this race as the favorite in his seasonal debut. He was last seen narrowly losing the Clark Stakes in November. Prior to that, he had his first graded stakes triumph in the Fayette Stakes at Keeneland. He’s always need a race off the layoff before he’s been at his best though, and I think he’ll need to be at his best to beat this field. I’ll cover with him, but I’ll look to beat him in this race. I was skeptical about Ginobili (#4) in the Fifth Season Stakes last month, but he certainly proved me wrong with a powerful performance to beat this group by open lengths. He was second to Life is Good in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile back in 2021, and will be asked to go an extra 1/16 of a mile longer than he has before. I think he’;s quicker than the other speed horses though, and he clearly likes the local oval. I see him as the one beat. Rob Atras brings Law Professor (#2) into town from New York after an impressive victory in the Queens County Stakes there last month. He kept Life is Good honest in the slop, finishing second to him in the Woodward Stakes this past fall/ He was 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, behind Cody’s Wish and Cyberknife. His last race suggests that he might be getting better in his five year old season. He may get the right trip, just behind the early leaders. On deeper tickets, I’ll have to cover with the ten year old, Rated R Superstar (#3). He’s at his best when there’s a strong pace for him to close into, and he might get that scenario today, especially if West Will Power is a little more keen than usual while coming off a three month break. He left himself with too much work to do in the Fifth Season Stakes last month, but the added 1/16 of a mile should help his cause today. While I think others are better, this heart and tenacity of this horse cannot be questioned.
An overflow field of state bred, maiden, three year old fillies will end the day. Watch This Birdie (#6) is the 2-5 morning line favorite and she just looks better than this group. She was second on the turf at Colonial in her debut in July. She shipped here and made her first start on the dirt at this level in the slop in December, losing in photo to Choctaw Zip. They were 2 and ½ lengths in front of the third place finisher and then double digit lengths in front of everyone else. The first time starters don’t look like much on paper and the horses with race day experience don’t seem to be in her class. If Indian Spirit (#14) can draw in off the AE list, she’s the only one that might have a shot in her second career start. She was competitive before tiring late in her debut last month. She didn’t have the best break that day, so there is room for improvement. However, facing a horse like Watch This Birdie might be too much to ask right now.
Meet Statistics: Top Pick 51/248 (20.6%), $378.80 $1.53 ROI
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